PTSD & the Blindness of the Just Man

A friend wrote this thought provoking post (closely related to the one I posted earlier today). Comments are disabled; please leave comments on the original post.

Unraveled and the Birth of Joy

blog image YodaLove will find a way where wolves fear to thread.
– Lord Byron

Recently I took part in a research study regarding OIF and OEF veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, that was designed to examine how a vet’s PTSD affects present and past relationship partners.  Psychiatrists are discovering that the failure by our government to provide effective deprogramming to combat vets, and their resulting emotional suppression, disregulation, and too often infantile personality syndrome, is now resulting in widespread PTSD in “dependents” (wives, husbands, and children) and their romantic partners as well.

Seems incorrectly treated (or untreated) PTSD in combat vets is contagious.

The shameful truth is, this country keeps its soldiers ready for deployment – by medical suppression of symptoms and emotions (utilizing anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, and stigma propaganda) but largely does not make us of trigger normalization and cognitive therapy, known world-wide to help heal PTSD, and necessary for a…

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Guest Post: Descartes and the Killer Bees (by Anna Girolami)

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A reader named Anna Girolami (she has a blog called Good Red Herring) emailed me wondering if she could write a guest post for this blog.    I felt honored that she wanted to do this!  The post she wrote is definitely out-of-the-box and thought-provoking and has some intriguing ideas about handling people with various personality disorders, especially the Cluster B’s. I had to laugh at the reference to the “Killer Bees” (and will overlook the fact that technically, I’m included in this category, but since I’m recovering or maybe already recovered from BPD, maybe not).

I do want to add a disclaimer, however.   Anna’s thoughts about “managing a narcissist (or other disordered person)” are interesting, but I don’t think it would be wise in most situations, at least not for any length of time, and certainly not for any malignant narcissist or sociopathic personality.    No Contact, is of course, ALWAYS the best way to “manage” a narcissist, but there are situations where going NC may not be feasible.   In those cases, there is a technique known as “grey rocking,” which basically means being so mind-numbingly boring to the narcissist they go elsewhere and leave you alone.  Even that doesn’t always work, but I don’t think it’s really feasible to “manage” a disordered person without doing damage to yourself.  I think to try to manage a narcissist or another person with a personality disorder in this manner would prove extremely exhausting at best, and soul killing at worst.  Essentially, it means providing them with narcissistic supply!  So I don’t recommend it, but perhaps it’s something you can try if all else fails. It might work for the non-“Killer Bees” like the obsessive-compulsive or dependent PDs that Anna mentions; I’m not sure though, since I’m not as familiar with the Cluster C category of personality disorders.

That being said, I do see Anna’s logic here, and perhaps with a narcissist who isn’t very high on the spectrum or someone with a different personality disorder, this type of management might be an option.  Or, it might work in a pinch, when you can’t get away but you’re only with the disordered person for a short time, say at a party or a meeting.  It might work on a boss, too, if you really don’t want to leave your job and grey-rocking might seem too rude. (Never tell your Histrionic boss they’re sexy, though!)

Descartes and the Killer Bees.

By Anna Girolami

Blog: Good Red Herring

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René Descartes is regarded by many as the father of modern western philosophy. For most of us, he boils down to a single, famous phrase:

Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).

A lot of disordered people, however, operate on a variation of this theme. I’m talking about Cluster B people – the Killer Bees. They don’t think, they really don’t want to think. That’s the last thing they want to do. No, their being depends upon something else:

Videor, ergo sum (I am seen, therefore I am).

Equally important to them, is the flip side:

Non videor, ergo non sum (I am not seen, therefore I am not).

One of the hallmarks of disordered people is “splitting” – the simplistic belief that things are either completely wonderful or completely dreadful. Anything more ambivalent than that is just too difficult to deal with.

For our Killer Bees, this habit of splitting combines with the above dictum in a catastrophic way. They can admit only two possibilities – either the whole world is watching them and thus they are alive or no-one at all is watching them so, arrrrgh!, they cease to exist.

Given that very terrifying choice, which one would you go for? A Killer Bee has no real option but to cling desperately to the belief that every single person in the world is watching them for every second of the day. It’s either that or existential obliteration.

This belief requires that – consciously or not – they beat down any aptitude for empathy that they may have. Iris Murdoch (who was a philosopher before she was a novelist) nailed this when she said “Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.”

I take some issue with this as a definition of love. As a definition of empathy, however, it’s absolutely bang on.

The proper acknowledgement of other people’s autonomy and identity is a highly evolved function – one that many people seem unwilling to develop, on the very understandable grounds that it would deprive them of a great deal of secondary gain.

A Killer Bee cannot afford to acknowledge that anyone else is real. Even those – especially those – they ought to love the most. Other people are merely robots whose only function is to watch the Bee and thereby preserve them from extinction. Ideally, they should watch and approve. But even watching and disapproving is better than nothing.

What the watch-bots simply cannot be allowed, is any independent thought or action or intent of their own. That would mean they might stop watching the Bee for a while and then the Bee would cease to exist.

For a Killer Bee, it really is that simple – and that important.
Non videor, ergo non sum.

*****

If you’re married to or in some other way entangled with a Killer Bee, it is futile expecting them to notice you, support you or in any other way treat you as if you are real. They can’t do it. Not without professional help and not unless they want to. Very, very few want to – why should they give up this way of living that means lots of lovely attention and never having to think about anybody else?

So, what do you do? If your Killer Bee is of the mild-to-moderate variety, you have three choices:

1. Suck it up, suck it all up.
2. Ditch ’em.

Or..

3. you can manage them.

If you can’t/don’t want to ditch them, it seems obvious that your best option is to manage them. They’re quite primitive machines and, if they’re not too far gone, it is possible to manage them once you understand the clockwork. Oh sure, it makes you seethe, having to “manage” an adult, simply to stop them behaving like a three year old with low frustration tolerance. But it’s either that or suck it up, suck it all up.

Remember: videor, ergo sum.

Each variety of Killer Bee needs to be seen in a slightly different way.

–The Narcissist needs: “I see you, darling, you’re amaaaazing.”
–The extraverted Histrionic needs: “I see you, darling, you’re sooo sexy.”
–The introverted Histrionic needs: “I see you, darling, you’re so pretty but don’t get up, you’ll spoil the effect. Just you sit there and look perfect, I’ll do everything.” Or something like that.
–The Obsessive-Compulsive (OCPD, not OCD) needs: “I see you, darling, you’re trying so hard.”
–The Dependent or the Borderline needs: “I see you, darling, don’t worry. I’m here, I’m always here.”
(Yes, I know obsessives and dependents aren’t technically in the Cluster B group, but they often wander over into their territory.)

If you don’t know exactly which type you’ve got, just go with “I see you, darling, you’re wonderful.” That will keep most of ‘em happy, it’s the seeing that really matters. When Killer Bees are happy, they can actually play quite nicely.

This sounds easy enough but here’s the thing – you have to do it all the time. Every waking second of their day, or near enough. Once a week simply doesn’t cut it.

Remember: non videor ergo non sum.

They genuinely feel that if they are not sufficiently seen, then they don’t exist. When that happens, anxiety quickly overwhelms them. The narcissist will rage and belittle you, the histrionic will weep, the obsessive will sulk. Whatever.

It’s exhausting (and maddening) to have to supply this amount of constant watching with, inevitably, no reciprocation. It is, however, less exhausting than the tantrums. It may help if you realise that it doesn’t always have to be you who does the watching. They’re not fussy, these people. No one is real to them. One watch-bot is as good as any other.

So if you can do it reasonably, consider offloading some of the watching duties onto others (although not onto your children, that’s absolutely not supposed to happen. It’s a tragedy that it so often does). My own particular Killer Bee, an Obsessive with a heavy histrionic topcoat, is good at running, so I encourage him to enter as many races as he can. When he does well (which is usually. He’s an obsessive, after all), he gets a big chunk of lovely watching and approval from a whole host of other people – and I get a bit of time off. Its almost win-win.

Our holidays aren’t very restful though.

Have a great week,
Anna

Guest post: 7 Red Flags of a Nasty Narcissistic Personality (By Richard Grannon aka SpartanLifeCoach)

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I’m honored to feature an original post by SpartanLifeCoach, Richard Grannon.  His website can be found here.

7 RED FLAGS OF A NASTY NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY
By Richard Grannon

Here are tips for the modern human seeking to avoid becoming entangled in personality disordered unpleasantness.

Here’s the LOW DOWN:

Many psychologists think we may be facing a full blown narcissism epidemic.

And NO, this doesn’t just mean middle aged baby boomers whinging about girls at the gym loading up their Instagrams with selfies. We are talking a full blown narcissistic personality disorder epidemic on the real. Academics and clinicians are (quietly) holding seminars and conferences about it as we speak.

The difference between a touch of vanity and malignant self obsession?

According to Freud a narcissistic phase is vital to the healthy psychological growth of infants. If people are traumatised at a certain age in a certain way they “get stuck” in a rather infantile phase of development giving them the morality and compassion of a 4 year old toddler tyrant.
This very overbearing “me, me, me” phase is essential to the development of self regard and boundaries in a young child. It is extremely toxic when still present in a fully grown adult.

Lets clear up some confusion: Having pronounced narcissistic traits can be an advantage in certain situations, yes. Many people think the essence of narcissism is self love and/or vanity, if you are talking about narcissism with a little “n” then perhaps. You want to look your best, dress well and take of your self, this is normal.

However, Malignant Narcissism is a world away from a little dose of narcissism.
A full blown NPD has experienced a dramatic and long lasting break from reality as a result of trauma. This trauma is usually from being objectified by a highly narcissistic parent who has used that child as a kind of narcissistic supply by proxy (a bit more complicated to explain, I’ll get into that elsewhere).

Malignant NPD means a shell personality has been constructed around the authentic self as a defense mechanism to a hostile environment. Onto that shell the NPD projects a false, idealised self. They really are living inside “their own little bubbles” of narcissism. Their relationship with reality is by definition, warped.

Make no mistake–being vain and self-interested does not Narcissistic Personality Disorder make!

What this means for you:

If the psychologists are right and full blown narcissistic personality disorder is both currently under-diagnosed and on the rise then you might want to be extra careful you are getting intimate with a new partner.

Take more precautions, learn what the red flags of NPD are and if you see it, disengage, disengage, disengage.

Always? Yes, always.

Can’t I just dip my toe in? Can’t I save them? No and no.

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The risk:

Getting involved with a full blown NPD can be disastrous and can leave the partner with PTSD-like symptoms that seem at first to be a kind of intense heartbreak but actually signal a crisis of self identity and of the individuals relationship with reality itself. Yes, that’s how dangerous and damaging a relationship with an NPD can be. Look online and you will see countless stories of people losing money, property, jobs, businesses, self worth and sanity all at the hands of an NPD.

How can this happen?

Someone with NPD could be considered to be an un-personality. Instead of an individual with feelings, wants and desires there is only a shell who is hell bent on garnering certain types of emotional responses and attention from those around her/or him.

Because of this unique (and previously very rare) condition they are excellent actors and superb social chameleons who can tune in to their selected victims dreams, fears and desires and then be exactly what the victim thought they had been looking for their whole life.

Clue 1: If its too good to be true, it probably is.

Nobody is perfect, thankfully, what a dull world it would be if it were not so. If you meet a girl or a guy and they seem to be weirdly PRECISELY what you think you were looking for then stop and go back and check again.

Clue 2: Too fast, waaaay too fast.

The NPD accelerates the relationship at lightning speed. They instantly will want there to be zero boundaries between the two of you.

Most of my clients tell the same story: whirlwind romance, we moved in together within a matter of weeks, she told me she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me and I was the love of her life, soul mate and or perfect life partner…and so on…

Why? The NPD is a close cousin to the well known Psychopath (Anti-social Personality disorder). These are personality disorders defined by a lack of boundaries. Between themselves and others, between what they think, perceive and what they feel, and their fantasies and reality.

So why is that such a big deal, wouldn’t that make a person a bit of a dreamy, artistic, creative type? Fundamentally good natured if a little frustratingly scatter brained at times.

No.

Why?

Because of the essential traits of this cluster of personality disorders: exploitativeness, entitlement and a strong urge to punish.

I wont get into whether NPDs are truly sadistic or not here, but Cluster B disorders (malignant Borderlines, Narcissists and people with Anti-social Personality Disorder) are very focused on power dynamics and maintaining the upper hand at all times. It is an expedient way to exert power over someone, to simply hurt them and make them feel distress.

They want to be intimate rapidly with you, not because they love you “SO MUCH” (sorry to bring what will be to many, very painful news) but because it makes them feel significant, indispensable, powerful.

And the Cluster B has little to no impulse control, so why not just get all the way inside your life straight away? It feels sooooo good.

Clue 3: Love Bombing.

The harder and more fiercely they love you at first the more savagely they will treat you when the axe falls. And it always falls.

Why?

Intimacy terrifies the NPD. It’s a loss of control. If they “lose themselves in the game” they may start feeling their authentic feelings for you. This will make them frightened and angry and then they will give way to their “talionic impulse” (look it up, see how well this shoe fits!) and punish you for making them feel feelings for you.

If the girl or guy you just met is mauling you with adulation and love, be advised: step away from the relationship.

Take a few days to cool off and clear your head. In the early phases of a relationship this should be fine and they should not be upset by “taking a breather”, if they freak out about it and get angry (NPD) or pour scorn on you/make dramatic displays of self pity (BPD) or threaten to kill your dog (ASPD), that’s a MAJOR red flag that we are not dealing with a sane boundaried adult looking for an equal relationship. Amiright? (See Clue 4)

Why?

Even cults have figured out that the human condition is fragile and insecure and that if you “love bomb” (literally bomb someone with compliments, gifts, adulation) it makes the target feel really intense feelings of happiness and recognition all associated in their brain with YOU. Or the guru of the cult. This gives them the initial hook into you. Kind of like a crack dealer letting you have your first few hits for free.

Why are they always mean afterwards?

It’s fuelled by the mechanism called the “talionic” urge, and it’s preconscious. It’s likely that they know they are doing it, but it’s very unlikely they actually know why. These are not people who spend an awful lot of time on genuine introspection, questioning their own motives!

Its called the “cycle of idealisation and devaluation”. They put you, or rather their fantasy of you, up high on a pedestal, because it makes them feel good to do so. When you, eventually, refuse to be the fantasy they want and are annoying enough to be the real person you are, you inflict an outrageous insult against them and they are disproportionately angry (this is called narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage) and will fling you into the gutter with total savagery.

To say they are cruel is an understatement. They have a sense of your suffering but simply do not care one bit if you are totally destroyed by their cruelty. In fact they would prefer it. It would be further proof of their power and uniqueness if you were crushed by their dismissal.

Clue 4: Does not respond well to the word “no”

Or indeed to any boundaries being set.

At all.

If you tell another sane, adult, who is being truly honest with you and doesn’t have an ulterior motive the word “no” politely and they have a major emotional response to that, or indeed you just try to set a boundary and they get very angry or upset, well, you don’t need a psychology degree to see that that just is NOT healthy.

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Why? A boundary being set is them being locked out. A boundary being set is them losing controlling. The NPD experiences a boundary or a “no” as a hugely outrageous insult to their assumed superiority and they will respond with rage or an uber-sulk session that will last for days. Both have the same intent: to punish your disobedience.

Clue 5: Jealous and/or Controlling Behaviour.

Come on, I know that he or she is really hot and they are great in bed and funny and charming (the NPD as a great actor and social chameleon can really turn on the good stuff when its getting them what they want) but are you really going to ignore another sign of them being moody, bratty, bossy, petulant, jealous or just plain manic control-freakish?

Why do they do this?

The NPD is an infant trapped in an adult body. They think they have a right to everything, all the time, all of you, every part of you. NOW.

Clue 6: You Don’t Feel So Good

One of the symptoms of being with an NPD is a dysregulated HPA axis. Sounds fancy, in this context it essentially means that your brain systems “threat assessment software” has gotten out of whack as your frontal lobes and limbic system have gotten into a fight with each other about how dangerous this person is. This means you will feel exhausted, depressed, anxious, hyper vigilant and prone to over react to stress you can normally deal with. If it goes on long enough you will experience adrenal exhaustion.

Why?

One part of you is sending a signal saying: WARNING! This person is dangerous. And another part of you, encouraged by the NPD is saying: no, no, she is lovely and she loves me and I want this to carry on.

This creates a split in you in which two opposing versions of reality fight for dominance and that’s very, very stressful. Watch out for the insomnia and bad dreams!

Clue 7: You Become A Detective

You start checking their social media profiles. Maybe a sneaky peak on their phone checking whatsapp, facebook messenger and even emails. You aren’t proud of it, but goddamn it its becoming an obsession. There is an alarm ringing in your head that you are missing something and if you could just find the missing link you would know for sure and then you could relax. You being to obsess over the person. This has swung from a dream come true to a waking nightmare.

Why?

Because you aren’t stupid, your intuition is functioning and is telling you that you have been the victim of a con, ripped off, lured by a classic bait and switch. But if you face that reality you face catastrophic loss. So like any good addicted gambler you double down and pray for the best by day. And by night you are guiltily stalking your own girlfriend or boyfriend on social media or checking their phone, or looking at receipts in their wallet looking for some clue, ANY clue that proves your suspicion waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Sounds like being a tragic character from a Poe story doesn’t it? Doomed to slow death by Gin and melancholy.

The light at the end of this gloomy tunnel? I’ve helped thousands of people overcome the effects of being emotionally abused by an NPD so I know that it is possible. But it leaves scars and it changes people. Sometimes it changes them for the better, sometimes though they are left simply bitter.

Don’t let this be you.

It would be much more effective if people could learn to avoid the narcissists altogether. Learn these clues. If you have any doubt or suspicion take a big step back.

A normal sane person can permit you a few days breathing room where the NPD cannot, so doing so gives you an effective test of sanity and emotional stability. Attributes which are, according to the psychologists, sadly on the demise.

Be well, stay safe!

Richard Grannon (SpartanLifeCoach)
https://www.youtube.com/user/SPARTANLIFECOACH

Why narcissists are more hated than psychopaths.

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All four Cluster B disorders are vilified, especially on the Internet, but for a long time I wondered why NPD seemed to be even more demonized than ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) and psychopathy and seemed to be regarded as the most “evil” disorder to have.   After all, most narcissists are not going around breaking the law, murdering people (not physically, anyway), and most at least pretend to be nice to you, at least if your relationship is only casual.  They make a good impression and most have families and respectable jobs.  They go to church, teach second grade, and volunteer at the food pantry. If you’re just acquaintances or casual friends with a narcissist, they can even be a lot of fun.    They also provide a lot of our entertainment, as narcissism (including NPD) is over-represented  among celebrities, and what would we do without our movie, sports, and pop stars?   Antisocial people are far more likely to be in prison and most aren’t making a mark in the creative arts.   So why is it that narcissists are hated more than anyone else, at least on the Internet?  I think I finally figured out the answer to this, and there are a few reasons.

1. Narcissists are more likely to have raised us.

Not too many people with antisocial personality disorder become parents, or are allowed to keep their children for very long of they do.   They don’t need to have children for narcissistic supply since they don’t require that, and if they do have kids, their bad behavior is so obvious that their kids are usually taken away from them at a young age.   They don’t pretend to be good parents but secretly abuse their child the ways narcissists do.  They may even voluntarily give up a child because raising it is too much bother and gets in the way of their antisocial activities.

2.  Narcissists are more likely to have been a lover or a spouse.

Psychopaths and people with antisocial personality disorder tend to be loners, or run in packs (gangs).   They tend to dislike commitment and because they don’t require supply from other people, they usually have no use for a close relationship.   If they marry, it could be for financial reasons since all they care about is what works and what is practical. As a result, while they can’t really love, they may not really be that emotionally abusive.

3.  Psychopaths and people with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) seem like rare, exotic (and often caged) creatures.

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There’s a common perception of antisocial and psychopathic types being somehow apart from the rest of humanity, maybe not even quite human.   As a society, we are drawn to and fascinated by serial killers (though technically, a few, like Ted Bundy, have had an NPD diagnosis)  and a sort of cult has grown around psychopathic mass murderers, bank robbers, and serial killers.  They make good entertainment.   They’re also cool (something narcs are not).  In the movies, TV, and novels, the anti-hero is a “rebel without a cause” who usually fits the criteria for ASPD or psychopathy.   Even if they’re not committing crimes, they seem like exotic free agents who do whatever they want, whenever they want, and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.  Think of Ferris Bueller.  Ferris was more antisocial than narcissistic but he became a role model for millions of teenagers in the 1980s because he was just so cool.   If he was a narc he would have been cast as the villain.   Compare Ferris with Nellie Olson,  the spoiled, bratty rich girl in Little House on the Prairie.  Any questions? 

4.  What you see is what you get.

While psychopaths and people with ASPD lie well and often, it’s usually to avoid getting in trouble.  They can be manipulative, but only to get what they want from you (and what they want isn’t narcissistic supply but more practical things that help them achieve their goals).   They don’t lie just for the sake of lying.  Gaslighting, triangulation, and other types of emotional abuse that involve vicious lies about another person’s character aren’t really their thing.

5.  Narcissists are sneaky.

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Related to the above, narcissists are always trying to undermine or even destroy you behind your back.  Essentially, they are huge cowards.  Psychopaths and antisocial people don’t care about such “niceties” and tell you what they really think of you right to your face. No, they don’t have any empathy either and they don’t give a damn if they hurt your feelings, but they usually won’t be pretending to be your best friend either (unless you can be of practical use to them in some way) .

6.  Narcissists wallow in self pity.

Psychopaths and antisocials don’t feel sorry for themselves or waste other people’s time whimpering about how everyone hates them or how they never get any breaks.   That’s because they don’t care what you think of them and they make their own breaks, even if they have to break the law to do it.   Narcissists are not only hypersensitive, they are very dependent on other people.  People with ASPD pretty much operate alone.  They’re too cool for such narcissistic shenanigans as wanting to be liked and admired.

7.  Narcissists are  high maintenance.

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Psychopaths and antisocial people do not require narcissistic supply, therefore they don’t demand too much emotional sustenance from other people.  Narcissists constantly require being blown up like a punching clown doll (and make you want to punch them).

8.  People assume most psychopaths are in prison.

It’s not true, of course (some are running huge multinational corporations or running for political office), but most people assume anyone with ASPD/psychopathy is in prison and therefore no danger to the rest of us.    In contrast, narcissists seem to be lurking behind every tree and lamp post and hiding under every bed.

Borderlines: incurable demons or trauma victims?

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The symptoms of Complex PTSD are almost identical to those of BPD.

Something has come to my attention during the time I’ve been blogging, which I think is important enough to merit another post about it.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD, DSM code 301.83) is classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a Cluster B (emotional/dramatic/erratic) personality disorder having many similarities to character disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Both NPD and ASPD are characterized by a lack of empathy, entitled behavior, and disregard for the rights or feelings of others. It’s also true that some Borderlines act out in ways harmful to themselves and others. Hence, “Cluster B” has become a pejorative category and some ACONs (adult children of narcissists) and others have demonized people with BPD as being amoral, immoral, and almost inhuman, nearly or as bad as as people with NPD or ASPD. Some even go so far as to lump all borderlines in with the “narcs” and barely make a distinction between them. In their minds, if you’re a Borderline, you’re no better than a “narc” and that’s all there is to it. You’re a bad person and to be avoided.

To make matters even worse, many mental health professionals refuse to treat people with BPD, believing them to be troublemakers, incurable, or both. I remember one therapist I saw years ago for an intake session and seemed to connect well with, called me a few days later after he received my psychiatric records, and told me he couldn’t take me on as a patient. “I don’t work with borderlines,” he said.

It’s true that there are some similarities between the Cluster B disorders, and both BPD and NPD/ASPD have roots in childhood abuse or neglect. But the similarities don’t run very deep. What I mean by that is while both a borderline and a narcissist cn be manipulative or abusive to others, the reasons are very different. There’s also the matter of intention. Borderlines, if they act out against others, aren’t usually aware they’re being abusive and/or manipulative. If their bad behavior is brought to their attention, they normally become very upset and feel terrible about it (unless they have a comorbid NPD or ASPD diagnosis). They act out because of overpowering emotions that they haven’t learned how to control. In contrast, a narcissist or person with ASPD acts out because they can. If their behavior is brought to their attention, they’re likely to become angry and rage against the accusation, make excuses, blame-shift it onto someone else, or deny it.  Unlike most borderlines, they don’t feel remorse, guilt or shame for hurting others.

In addition, many borderlines are much more harmful to themselves than to other people. If they do act out against others, most are as frightened by their own outbursts as others are and sometimes more so. In a nutshell, people with BPD know they have a problem and wish they could be different. Untreated BPD makes a Borderline’s life miserable, while people with NPD or ASPD are usually not bothered by their disorder. That’s why, even though Borderlines can act “crazier” than narcissists, they can get better and are much more responsive to therapy or behavioral treatments such as DBT or CBT.

But we’re still caught in a gray zone, neither here or there.   The stigma against borderlines (in my observation) has grown worse, and most narcissistic abuse sites pretty much regard people with BPD  as the “female or over-emotional version of NPD.”  (actually, Covert/Fragile NPD or Histrionic Personality Disorder would come closer).   If we’re narcissistic abuse victims suffering from complex PTSD, it takes a great deal of courage to admit you also have a BPD diagnosis.  It took me a few months to come out about it on this blog. Fortunately,  I haven’t received too much (or really, any) flack about it.

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Click to enlarge graph.

The good news is, a number of BPD bloggers are helping to reduce the negative stigma that we’re “bad seeds” with an untreatable disorder just because we’re OMG “Cluster B.” Think about this: have you ever noticed that there aren’t too many people with NPD (or ASPD) blogging about their challenges and insecurities, or fighting to reduce the stigma against their disorder? If they blog about their narcissism or psychopathy, it’s usually to brag about how NPD/psychopathy makes them superior or allows them to have control over others and be successful in the world. That’s because they don’t think they have a problem (They just cause others to have problems). Most Borderlines know they have a problem and struggle with it constantly, since it makes them feel so crazy and lowers their quality of life. I can only think of ONE blogger with NPD who was unhappy with his disorder and successfully treated for it (or so he says). That man probably had low-spectrum and probably covert NPD; a person with malignant or high spectrum grandiose-type NPD will never have enough insight or willingness to admit that THEY are the ones with a problem. In contrast, I can think of about 20 bloggers with BPD who are in treatment or therapy or have even been healed! I’m sure there’s many more that I don’t even know about.

BPD also seems to co-occur a lot with complex PTSD or PTSD. Most BPD bloggers I can think of also have complex PTSD or are in treatment for it. The symptoms of BPD and Complex PTSD are almost the same. The DSM does not recognize Complex PTSD as a diagnosis; it only recognizes PTSD, which is not caused by chronic trauma over a long period of time (such as having been abused as a child), but by one traumatic incident (such as fighting in a war or being raped). Therapeutic treatments for complex PTSD and BPD are also almost the same (for that matter, NPD and other personality disorders are treated almost the same way). Both BPD and Complex PTSD have a higher cure rate than NPD. Since Complex PTSD isn’t recognized as a valid diagnosis, I think a lot of people (especially women) who might have been diagnosed with complex PTSD if it was recognized get slapped with the “Borderline” label instead. Although I accept my BPD diagnosis (and have even become a little attached to it), I wonder if I might never have been diagnosed with it at all had Complex PTSD been recognized by the psychiatric profession. I think in some cases, BPD may not really be accurate, or could even be the same thing as C-PTSD due to their many similarities. At least one blogger (BPD Transformation, who used to comment here but stopped for some reason), doesn’t even think BPD is a valid diagnosis and shouldn’t exist at all.

Further reading:

Are BPD and Complex PTSD the Same Disorder?

Is BPD a Real Disorder or Should it Be Eliminated as a Diagnosis?

The Male Borderline Waif

This is a good article about an overlooked subject–the male borderline. BPD is usually associated (and diagnosed) in women; men are more often diagnosed with NPD. But they aren’t the same disorder, and this article explains what a man with the introverted/fragile sort of BPD can be like. (The more aggressive types of male Borderlines are often mistaken as having Antisocial Personality Disorder due to their impulsivity and acting-out behavior, which sometimes gets them in trouble with the law). There’s a lot of gender bias in the diagnosis of mental illness and BPD is one of the most stigmatized and misunderstood of all the disorders.

Out of the Mire

I’ve written a lot on borderline personality disorder (BPD) on this blog largely because my mother has the disorder.  It is not something I wish to vilify, and I don’t want to verbally mistreat people who have been diagnosed with it either.  Of all the personality disorders, BPD is the most stigmatized.  Many therapists refuse to treat it or see clients who carry the diagnosis altogether.  That is a hard road to walk when one has the disorder, and it’s also a very difficult situation if you love someone with it.  Where do you turn? What resources are available to you when there are so little available to your loved one with BPD?

Another inherent problem is that of diagnosis.  Many people struggling with BPD are never diagnosed and, therefore, never treated due to 1) treatment resistance 2) refusal to seek help.  The other factor? Gender bias within the clinical…

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BPD Awareness: end the stigma

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Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental disorder with its roots in childhood abuse (usually narcissistic or sexual abuse) and as you can see in one of the memes below, it shares much in common with Complex PTSD and may in fact be a variation of the same disorder.

But BPD is terribly stigmatized, with its sufferers being called everything from evil to incurable.  Many mental health professionals refuse to work with Borderlines because of this stigma.  They’re afraid of us!  While some more aggressive borderlines can certainly do bad things to others and be manipulative, for people with BPD, their actions are caused by an inability to control or regulate their emotions, so they act out instead of thinking before they act. Many Borderlines are more destructive to themselves than to others.  They can seem self-centered and narcissistic not because they lack empathy (many borderlines, in fact have an excess of empathy) but because they get too caught up in their own emotional turmoil to be mindful of others.    Unlike people with NPD, they also don’t have a sense of entitlement.   In fact, they often feel like they deserve nothing.

BPD is much more treatable and receptive to therapy than other Cluster B disorders like NPD or Antisocial Personality Disorder.   Unlike those disorders, too, people with BPD can be helped by medication.

 

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Cluster B disorders are not cool.

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Although Cluster B disorders (the dramatic, emotional, erratic group of personality disorders), are largely demonized on the Internet by narcissistic abuse survivors, there’s another growing attitude online that’s pretty much the opposite–that having a Cluster B disorder somehow makes you an uber-cool badass.

This is a dangerous delusion.  Take it from me, having a Cluster B disorder like BPD (in my case) is NOT fun. Nor is it cool. In fact, it really really sucks. 😦 Both for yourself and everyone else.

This growing attitude of “Cluster B coolness” I’ve been seeing more of goes something like this:

NPD:

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This is what your narcissist is really all about.

The Myth:  If you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), you’re a self-confident, go-out-and-knock-em-all-dead, ambitious, and highly intelligent badass who Gets. Things. Done. Psychopaths are similarly glorified, but they’re basically the reason why everything’s wrong with the world and empathy is seen as a “weakness.” The narcissistic woman is regarded as a diabolical yet seductive Jezebel who turns strong men into whimpering slaves at the snap of her pretty fingers and who every other woman strives to be. The narcissistic man is regarded as a buff, handsome, masculine, virile, successful go-getter who all women melt for (and that’s how they regard themselves, of course).

The Reality:  In actuality, if you have NPD, you’re a negative, selfish, deluded, demanding, envious, entitled, whining crybaby with no real sense of self who everyone hates (and who hates everyone) but are afraid to say so because it might set off one of your infamous rages or you giving them the even more crazymaking “silent treatment.” People are always walking on eggshells around you because you’re really so unstable, hypersensitive to criticism,  and deluded by and drunk  with your own “greatness.”  You’re a sore loser too and can’t stand to see anyone else do well or get any attention.   No one really likes you and you’re probably right that people are talking about you behind your back, but frankly you deserve it. Also, many narcissists are just plain stupid and have no emotional intelligence.  As for their reputed skillfulness in bed,  many narcs (especially the cerebral types) hate sex and can’t or won’t perform.  Or, as with everything else, they only care about their own needs and to hell with yours.

BPD:

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Joan Crawford had a BPD diagnosis. Is this sexy, alluring, and “quirky” to you?

The Myth: If you have Borderline Personality Disorder, some people think this means you’re a sexy beast or babe who’s alluring, unpredictable, passionate, always charming and “quirky”, and never boring. Your chameleon-like abilities to match the attitudes of those around you is seen as evidence of potential Oscar-winning ability. It’s always pointed out how many actors and musicians suffer from BPD.

The Reality:  Let’s be honest.   If you have BPD you’re emotionally unstable, volatile, almost crazy (the original term “borderline” referred to the disorder being on the border between neurosis and psychosis), out of touch with reality, unable to take a firm stance on anything (or conversely, switching back and forth between two extremes, which just makes you look insane) due to your terror of being rejected or abandoned, prone to be an addict, (drugs, booze, gambling, shopping, cutting, eating and/or dieting, other people), clingy,  codependent, insecure, high-maintenance,  and fickle. The borderline doesn’t really have a false self per se like the narcissist, but they can’t access their true self either, so they wind up “taking on” the attitudes and emotions of those who happen to be around them like some kind of emotional bodysnatcher (in contrast with true empathy, their feelings overwhelm them and are out of control), and they just plain overreact to every damn thing so you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells.

HPD:

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You think you look seductive. Everyone else thinks you look like a clown.

The Myth: Although Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) isn’t widely talked about, its reputation is similar to that of BPD (but is really the stereotypically feminine form of Overt NPD): usually female, a sexy, seductive siren, dramatic, highly social, loves parties and being the center of attention, and is never, ever boring. You’ll fall madly in love with this bewitching seductress due to their many charms and their great looks.

The Reality: The real truth about people with HPD is that they’re insincere, emotionally labile to the point of being embarrassing (but their over-the-top “emotional displays” are largely an act), shallow, materialistic, and emotionally retarded. They often overdress (or underdress!) or are overly made up for an occasion, are sexually promiscuous, and are inappropriate in social situations, but they don’t care if you’re cringing in embarrassment for them because even negative attention is still attention and that’s what they crave more than the air itself.

ASPD:

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Nuff said.

The Myth:  So here we are at the juggernaut of the Cluster Bs, the baddest badass of them all, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Often confused with Psychopathy (and often overlapping with it), the antisocial or psychopathic badass is a sexy and fearless rogue, unconcerned with how others feel about them, possessed of an arresting and penetrating gaze (actually a predatory, creepy stare) that makes you feel like they are really listening to you, determined to get what they want (whether it’s their latest kill or their latest corporate takeover) and never giving up or allowing themselves to be intimidated, by anything. They’re the Rebels Without a Cause, the self-confident Ferris Buellers, the Coolest of the Cool, the celebrated anti-heroes of novels and films socially sanctioned to serve as a receptacle for the Shadow Self that resides within us all. The ASPD badass gives us permission to mentally “act out” our darker impulses, without actually hurting anyone, and that’s why we all love serial killers so much, and why the Ted Bundys and Charlie Mansons of the world get more marriage proposals than any football or film star.

The Reality:  The antisocial badass is really just a heartless and criminally minded horse’s ass, who has no capacity for empathy, isn’t even socially constrained by their need to impress others to garner narcissistic supply (because they don’t require any), and is frequently in prison or has a rap sheet the size of War and Peace. This is a guy (or gal) who will make your life a living hell, beat you to a pulp any chance they get and leave you in a heartbeat and not even remember your name.

If they’re high functioning, they’re the people who are responsible for everything that’s wrong in the world today and the reason why you work 3 jobs and can’t afford a vacation or health insurance.

If they’re low-functioning, if they’re not straight up criminals, they’re flabby, pasty Basement Dwellers who dishonestly leech off the system or their family members so they never have to work and spend all their time trolling Internet forums to get a rise out of random strangers.   Just like my ex.

 

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Ah, what a studly, irresistably dangerous heartbreaker you are.

If you’re a psychopath or sociopath, you operate more like a machine than a human. Is that something we should be aspiring to?

So there you have it. Cluster B disorders are not cool. They are serious mental (and some believe, spiritual) illnesses, and they are pathetic.   And let’s not forget that people suffering from Cluster B disorders are not happy people.  In fact, most of them are pretty miserable.  They are to be pitied (and avoided) rather than emulated.

A rebuttal in defense of Cluster B. 

Forever alone, revisited.

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This is going to be another “running naked” post.

I have mixed feelings about being in a relationship. On the one hand, I long for it because I can’t deny that my inability to connect with anyone on a deep emotional level has caused me a lot of sadness and pain.

At the same time I need my solitude, and it’s almost always my preferred state, due to my avoidant personality. I’d much rather do things alone than do them with others. I’m simply too selfish and don’t want to give of myself to anyone else. I think the selfishness stems from fear though. I’m too afraid: I struggle with fears of rejection, abandonment, judgement, engulfment, being hurt, being used, being abused, etc. I have little to no interest in sex, although I can be sexually attracted. (maybe this is TMI, but I prefer my fantasies to the real thing).

So I have a sort of conundrum. I don’t want to grow old and die alone, but at the same time I don’t want to and am afraid to do what it takes to avoid being alone forever. I was married to my malignant narcissist ex for many years, but the marriage was extremely dysfunctional and I was always in the codependent role. Thinking about the marriage’s failure (which was inevitable from Day One) now makes me feel sad, although for a long time I just felt rage (which is why I started my first blog).

I would only consider a relationship with a non-narcissist now (and really, not with any Cluster B), but that’s a problem because I’m simply not attracted to non-disordered people. I never have been.

The other problem is I’m “in love with the idea of being in love.” Like most Cluster B’s, I become limerent easily (though less so than I used to) and get addicted to the whole “high” that infatuated feeling brings. But it never lasts and I know intellectually it’s not real love. It’s a type of addiction that feels as good as a drug, but the crash (and there always is one) is just as bad as coming down from a powerful drug too. I miss that drug-like high of falling in love though.

To rectify this longing, I live the limerent experience out in my mind by developing powerful crushes on people who cannot give me anything in return for a variety of reasons. Oddly enough, this lack of reciprocation is okay with me. I don’t feel like anything is “unrequited” because I deliberately and consciously get attached to a person only in my own mind and prefer not to share my feelings with the person in question. I have an active enough imagination that there is no need to play it out in reality. In fact, I’d probably run away in terror if it became obvious my feelings were returned. I’d get off on the supply that comes with that, of course–but it would send me into panic mode too. It’s very weird. I don’t know if this is just an eccentricity of mine, or if this sort of thing is experienced by others. Having an active imagination does have its benefits. It’s very narcissistic though.

I think unless I can become non-disordered (which is unlikely), that I need to accept the idea of being alone for the rest of my life. On a day to day basis, I’m okay with that, but it’s sometimes so hard when you look around and everyone else in my age group is married or in a relationship, and I have to do everything on my own. You’re treated by society as defective and if you don’t make a good living, it’s hard to even survive. I feel like a freak sometimes. I can’t look at singleness as a permanent lifestyle or I get very sad and afraid. I have to do what they do in AA, and take things one day at a time.

The Cluster B stigma and the nature of evil.

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I don’t care if what I’m about to say is controversial or unpopular.

There are some folks in the ACON community who think ALL narcissists are evil, and some think all BPDs are evil too. (In fact there are some BPDs who are worse than some narcs).
It’s understandable why people feel that way (and I did for a time myself), but the people who abused them were usually high spectrum malignant narcissists or sociopaths so they think all narcissists (and even all Cluster Bs) are as bad as the abusive or rejecting parents who raised them.

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The stigma against Cluster B disorders is very pervasive and it’s getting worse. NPD used to just be a psychiatric diagnosis. Now it’s a condemnation to hell. Even if a low-mid spectrum narc or a borderline is self aware and wants to get better, they’re still put in the “evil” box along with the malignants, psychopaths and sociopaths. It’s always assumed they “have an agenda” or are “full of shit” and everything they say is a lie. I wondered why hearing people say this used to bother me; now I know why. It hurt my feelings because inside, I already knew I was one. I’m self-identified now and really, really want to change and every word I say on my blogs is my reality and truth. It’s my true self speaking, always. I think.

Cluster B’s are cut no slack by some ACONs. We are told we deserve no sympathy even though we were abused too and were victims too. This is extremely damaging to those of us who want to be rid of our Cluster B disorders.

The Cluster B stigma also makes it hard for those of us who want treatment to find it. Many therapists won’t get near someone with NPD or BPD with a 100 foot pole. I remember one therapist I had an intake session with, who I felt comfortable with, but said he’d need to order my psychiatric records before we could go any further.
A few days later he called me and said, “I’m sorry but I don’t treat Borderlines.”
Even if a therapists is willing to see someone with a Cluster B disorder, most insurance companies or government-funded health insurance like Medicaid or Medicare won’t pay a claim for a “Cluster B diagnosis” because it’s assumed they’re incurable. So we are given some other diagnosis instead and treated for THAT disorder (such as depression or anxiety) which doesn’t get to the root of our real problem but only treats symptoms.

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People who judge and demonize all narcissists are doing exactly what NPDs and BPDs are so well known for-–engaging in black and white thinking. They don’t believe or realize that narcissism is a spectrum disorder and those in the bottom half of the spectrum probably aren’t evil, even if they’re usually PITAs.

I know there will be some of you who will disagree. That’s fine and we can agree to disagree. I’ll hold to my belief that narcissism is a spectrum disorder with many shades of gray ranging all the way to black (evil).

So what is evil? Evil to me means a person who wants to bring harm to others and has no remorse over what they do and doesn’t care about the suffering they cause–and even enjoys it. It’s a person who goes out of their way to hurt others. It’s a person who tries to destroy the reality or the soul of another human being. It’s a person who never feels guilt or shame over their actions and has no empathy for the pain they cause. All evil people (as far as I know) are of the Cluster B persuasion and most are narcissists (or ASPDs), but not every narcissist or borderline is evil.

To really get a handle on what evil is, Dr. M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” is the best analysis out there. Most of the stories in his book describe people who would today be called malignant narcissists (high spectrum narcissists with antisocial traits).